Anyone who has cyber-trudged through a federal website, trying to navigate its confusing, labyrinthian construct, knows one emotion: frustration. But it seems the government has figured out who might be able to fix this maddening problem: recent grads.
A generation that grew up navigating websites and social media is now being charged with answering one of the nation’s longest-awaited calls: the upgrade of government web services. The mission of the new U.S. Digital Corps goes way beyond making it easier to replace your Social Security card. Launched in August, the Corps aims to improve government impact areas such as pandemic response, economic recovery, cybersecurity and racial equity.
Enter the Bruins. Anjenica “Nikki” Ramos ’21, Samantha Chai ’22 and Tiffany Feng ’21 are among 38 inaugural recipients of a two‑year fellowship recruiting early‑career technologists to bring federal websites into the 21st century. The fellowship aims to create a government career pipeline for software engineers, data scientists and other technologists in order to better represent the country’s diversity. The trio are the most recruits from one university.
“Different identities were celebrated at UCLA,” says Feng, now working as a data scientist and analyst for the General Services Administration. She wants to bring that same spirit to this project. For Ramos, participation in UCLA’s First Year Experience and First to Go programs during the pandemic prepared her well: She’s currently working in product design with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Chai, a designer for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, says while technology is not the salve for all problems, it can help government meet people where they are.
“In public service work,” she says, “diversity, equity and inclusion cannot be ignored.”
Read more from UCLA Magazine’s Winter 2023 issue.